Electoral College: What is it and does my vote count?
Election 2016 is one of the most important, and historical events of the past century. In anticipation of the next 48 hours waiting on votes to be counted, people are wondering whether their votes will actually count in the presidential election. The reason for this anxiety...the Electoral College.
What is the Electoral College? Does my vote count in presidential elections, and who decides? In each election cycle, the majority of novice politicos remind themselves of U.S. election rules, in preparation for the momentous event. If you want to take issue with the answer to how the president of the United States is elected to office, first thank the Framers and then make a plea for a constitutional amendment.
The Electoral College officially elects the President and Vice President of the United States. The election process is described in Article II, Sec. 1, of the U.S. Constitution. "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector." Thus, the Electoral College is comprised of electors. A state's Electors equal the number of elected officials in Congress (three electors represent the District of Columbia).
The total number of electors is 538. Of the 538 electors, 435 are legislative representatives from the U.S. House of Representatives, the other 100 electors are U.S. Senators (each state has two senators), and 3 of the 538 electors are from the District of Columbia.**
In 1961, the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution allowed the District of Columbia to receive three electoral votes since they previously had no contribution with selection of the president. The District of Columbia still has no representation in the House of Representatives or Senate.
In order to win a presidential election, a candidate must secure at minimum 270 (538 /2= 269+1 = 270) of 538 electoral votes. The Electoral vote allocations are based on the 2010 Census and is effective for the 2012, 2016, and 2020 presidential elections. Every ten years the Bureau of Census conducts a census for the U.S. population. It is important to remember that each state is not given the same number of electoral votes. Electoral vote allocation is based on the state's population. Although no matter how small a state's population, each state receives a minimum of three electoral votes. For example Wyoming, Delaware and Alaska are among the least populated states. Each of those states yield three electoral votes. Whereas the most populous states (California, Texas, New York, and Florida) receive the following electoral votes: California (55), Texas (38), Florida (29), and New York (29).
Many people take issue with the Electoral College because it does not allow a popular vote for the national leader, whereas a popular vote (direct vote) for a gubernatorial candidate is allowed. The last uproar of a popular vote v. electoral vote occurred during the 2000 election. The presidential candidates in 2000 were George W. Bush and Al Gore. Gore won the popular vote (48.38%) but did not gain enough electoral votes to secure the presidency, whereas Bush lost the popular vote (47.87%) but won the electoral vote. 2 Since our country chooses to use the Electoral College Bush won the 2000 election, which started a movement of people calling for a national popular vote to be adopted. The founding fathers did not trust the people and feared an uprising or tyranny so they limited the voices and control of the election system.
I would recommend watching The Trouble with the Electoral College to view other possible scenarios.